- By Kate Whannel & Sam Francis
- BBC news
Labor and the Lib Dems are profiting at the expense of the Conservative Party across Britain, as local election results are announced.
Labor gained control in Swindon, Plymouth, Medway and Stoke-on-Trent – a former Labor stronghold.
And the Lib Dems won control of three councils from the Conservatives, including Windsor and Maidenhead.
The election was the first major test of Rishi Sunak’s support since he became prime minister.
Results are continuing to come in Friday afternoon and evening. But so far, the Conservatives have lost control of 26 councils.
The Prime Minister said it was disappointing to lose Conservative councilors, but added that his party was making progress in “critical electoral battlegrounds” such as Peterborough, Sandwell and Bassetlaw.
Education Secretary Robert Halfon said this year’s election had always been “tough” for his party.
He said the Tory Party’s internal divisions “didn’t help” but claimed the losses were due to external factors, such as the cost of living crisis and problems within the NHS.
“Every midterm government, especially the one that has been in power for 13 years, has always suffered defeat in local elections,” he said.
But he added that Mr Sunak had “restored unity within the party” and “restored stability to the country, especially in the economy”.
“You don’t just cross the line, you blow the door off,” he told the crowd.
He claimed Labor was “on track” to win a majority at the next general election.
Labor has taken control of three councils from the Conservative Party including Swindon. The council is Labor’s main target and where the party launched its election campaign.
The council has not been won by Labor since 1999, and the party now aims to grab two of the region’s parliamentary seats from the Conservatives.
Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey told the BBC he had a “Cheshire-cat” smile on his face after what he said was a “breakthrough night” for his party.
Speaking in Windsor, where his party took control of the council from the Conservatives, Sir Ed said: “The Liberal Democrats are the big winners in this year’s local elections.
“I am so proud that when Katy Perry and Lionel Richie enter Windsor Castle for Sunday’s coronation concert, they will be entering an area represented by three Liberal Democrats councilors. new.”
The Liberal Democrats have also taken control of Dacorum, which was won by the Conservatives in 2019, and Stratford-on-Avon.
The Green Party took full control of its first council in Mid Suffolk. Party co-leader Carla Denyer said her party was benefiting from Starmer’s “deep dislike of the Conservative and unattractive Labor Party”.
The Greens have also become the largest party in East Hertfordshire Council, winning 18 new seats. The Conservatives, who have run the council since 1995, have lost 27 seats – leaving the council in a position of total uncontrollability.
Results continue to be announced, including three mayoral elections in Bedford, Leicester and Mansfield.
Elections do not take place in London, Scotland or Wales. Council elections in Northern Ireland have been postponed to Thursday 18 May because of the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday.
Ahead of Thursday’s vote, the Conservatives have sought to manage expectations, with party chairman Greg Hands suggesting his party could lose 1,000 council seats.
Labor took a significant lead in opinion polls but also lowered expectations, saying it was expected to win around 400 seats.
Most of the contested seats were last contested in 2019, a tumultuous time for the top two parties.
Thereafter, the Conservative Party lost a total of 1,330 seats in traditionally largely pro-Tory areas. Labor lost 84 seats – just over 4% of their councilors in those areas.
The main beneficiaries then were the Liberal Democrats and independent candidates.
In Thursday’s election, new rules were introduced that meant voters needed to present some form of ID.
The Electoral Commission, which oversees UK elections, said the election was “going well” overall but some people were unable to vote and the impact of the new voter ID rules need to be evaluated.
The Electoral Reform Association, which opposes the change, said there have been “countless examples” of prospective voters being denied voting because of the new rules.
The BBC has not been able to verify the number of voters who turned away because of the new rule. But figures for this are expected to emerge in the coming days.
Most electoral boards in the UK are county councils, responsible for services including garbage collection, parks, public housing and planning applications.
The rest of the elected assemblies are a combination of municipal councils and units – the single local government that deals with all local services.